Seven set off for Dursley on the B ride, and were lulled into a false sense of security on the flat route out through Longney. However, this soon vanished as Frocester Hill loomed in front of us. A dirty and poorly surfaced lane down to Horsley ensured that everyone will need to wash their bikes.

Although the morning had been frost free, there was an obvious temperature inversion at the bottom of the Horsley valley, and a distinct crunch could be heard under the wheels. Hay Lane from Horsley to Tiltups End was a new one for some riders, and those that don’t know it are probably fortunate. The usual sounds of exertion were drowned out by a loud crack accompanied by profanities, which can only mean a broken chain, and so it proved. As the rider involved was planning to turn back at Kingscote, and had the necessary kit, we abandoned him and headed for our coffee in Dursley.

After excellent coffee and cake at The Old Bank, we headed past Cam Peak and home through the thankfully re-opened Regent Street in Stroud. I don’t know if there was a special ingredient in the cake consumed by one rider, but he let out a loud shout of “car” as the express train to Plymouth hurtled past.

46 miles, 2,500′ ascent @ 15.3mph

Six took the AA option for coffee in Stroud. Feeling the risk of ice had abated at least for a day, lanes were the chosen method with a very little bit of off-tarmac. A pootle down the canal (surfaced towpath) to take in the Epney loop – it was its usual delight with a low mist over the Severn and towards the forest making for a perfect wintery scene. We were just caught at Saul canal bridge – could have made it over with a sprint, maybe! A smidge of track was taken by two at Whitminster Court and Church whilst the others stuck to the tarmac. A clear crossing of the A38 soon had us at Eastington church turning, which we took, and opted for the Eastington ‘by-pass’ to avoid the steep pitch. Note to all – most of this traffic free link is now tarmacked, as of mid January according to a surprised local. It was then a simple route to the Stanleys, over the canal and along the Ebley road to town and a well earned coffee and eats. We had selected the Curio Lounge, and this was a good choice: plenty of space and fairly priced. 23 miles and bang on 11am.

Another group accommodated one memebr’s aversion to Canal towpaths and used the Bristol Rd from the Square before entering the lanes around Elmore. Just as they entered Epney one of our riders was getting annoyed at a noise on his bike so they stopped, found a thorn and then made the ‘school boy’ error of taking it out; half a mile down the road – flat tyre!! Soon sorted we were on our way, taking a right in Saul then using an unfamiliar lane which came out opposite the Gothic splendour of Fretherne Church. Into Frampton and just as we left another puncture – a quick bit of re-routing in the Leader’s head meant the use of the A38 from Claypits to Cambridge. Then another new lane followed by the use of the ‘short cut’ towards Coaley. Time was pressing so into Cam past the train station and a possible change of Cafe, knowing the Vice Captain and his posse would eat all the cakes 😂 Unfortunately the cafe in Cam was shut so on to Dursley and The Bank.

The route to ‘lunch’ was via the towpath, lower Selsey hill to Middleyard, Frocester, Claypits, Frampton and back east to Haresfield and The Beacon. We too observed a fast moving train, fortunately ahead of us at the level crossing.

47 miles. No ice. No mechanicals. No pictures.